Another month comes and goes. After missing the June ramble to ‘days of obligation’ I was doubly excited for the chance to get out and enjoy some long miles with Bob and the rest of the guys on the monthly Rando Ramble. This month we set our sights on Havre De Grace.
The first half of the day was fairly fast and flat. A combination of winding back roads and faster Rte. 40, which was a far more pleasant experience to ride on than I would have originally guessed. The group broke quickly into 2 packs. John & I out back and everyone else in the lead group. Our side was moving along at about 14 mph & change — slow enough to see vanishing taillights up ahead but still fast enough to catch up at lunch and eat a full meal.
We stopped for lunch at Coakley’s Pub in downtown Havre De Grace and I had THE BEST cajun chicken sandwich I have ever had. The fries were excellent too. I skipped the beer this time because I still remember how I felt during round 2 of ‘On-Again-Off-Again‘. I can feel myself getting fitter, but not so much that I can punish myself and expect to pull through for another 65 miles unscathed. Coakley’s is right across the street from Biller’s Bikes which I wanted to check out. There was no time to browse around because I needed to get back on the bike and climb some hills!
After lunch, the camera went away. Not sure why as the route was scenic, but I just wasn’t feeling inspired. We climbed out of Havre De Grace and descended into Susquehanna State Park, then climbed back out towards Bel Air. On the way John and I caught up with Alex, who was running with the fast group until he hit the wall and had to rest for a few minutes. We took a quick roadside break and moved on. The next stretch of the ride turned onto faster roads like Rte 1 and 23 west. Aside from 1 or 2 very short sections, the entire route was either on calm roads or fast roads with a very large shoulder. There were very few times when I was nervous of traffic. Once off of 23 and back into the wilderness Alex got his second wind and pulled away again to finish off the day solo. John and I just kept chugging along at the usual pace with a passing shower or 2 to cool us off. We descended and climbed through the back roads to get to Loch Raven Reservoir, looped along the edge of the water and moved east to intercept with Cromwell bridge road at the site of the now-defunct Saunders Corner Restaurant where we took a quick 2 minute break in the parking lot for status phone calls and a chance to walk around. I brought new Pearl Izumi mountain shoes which needed a little better of a break-in than I gave them before riding a 100+ mile day, so by mile 90 my dogs were barkin’.
On the move again, we got our final treat for the day in the form of the Satyr Hill climb. Amazingly enough I felt pretty good and just plowed up with little or no agony in my middle ring. From there we pulled back into the city by way of Old Harford Rd. The electronic cue missed one turn so we got lost around Herring Run Park looking for the entrance to the mythical trail on the printed cue which ran under the Harford Rd. bridge. I rode up to the edge of the bridge and spied a biker riding along a path underneath, but there wasn’t stairs or a path down – just a steep gravel hill flanked with poison ivy to which I said “I ain’t climbing down that!” We mutually decided to backtrack to the last turn and figure out what happened. After a second we got it sorted out and were on our way.
We made it through the trail and back onto the road ok. A few turns later and we were at the end of the cue, but not the end of the route – there were 1 or 2 turns missing off the end, so we had to sort of grope our way back the last few blocks. Luckily we saw enough landmarks like Patterson Park and the downtown skyline to figure out which way to ride. Back to the start and Back home. I took my time and rode through Fells Point, Harborplace, up Charles St. and home, getting in about 7:45.
General Impressions: Strength training KICKS ASS. Do it. I can compare mph averages as similar to rides I’ve done in the past months, but I didn’t finish any of them stronger than this one. Having the power in my core to keep my upper body stable for transferring energy to the pedals and strength in the legs to turn over the cranks in a higher gear made all the difference in the world. I had a problem shifting into my granny gear when I went for it after lunch but just said screw it and pedaled in my middle ring which is unheard of for me. There was only one short steep in the back 40 on Green Rd. where I pulled over and manually moved the chain to the little ring. Not spinning the hills kept my heart rate much lower and I enjoyed breathing at a steady pace immensely. I was sort of slow for the day, but I spent the entire ride in my zone. The roads were a little wet to hit the descents full force anyway.
Numbers: 10:6’ | miles – 126.95 | average – 12.5 | elev gain – 6626′
(miles/avg from the cateye, elev/time from etrex – the Cateye did something weird where it logged all the miles and got the average right, but shorted the time by almost 2 hours. No explanation.)